The first came on a picturesque 39-yard throw to Terry Wright in the opening quarter. The second came on a came on an 11-yard toss to Jacob Hollister. Two touchdowns for the Seahawks on Thursday, each of which came by way of backup quarterback Geno Smith.
Yes, the Seahawks were up against the JV version of the Raiders, which brought just 46 players to CenturyLink Field. And yes, coach Pete Carroll’s mind may have made his mind up about the No. 2 QB before kickoff.
But through those first two quarters, Smith may have spawned some reassurance among Seahawks fans that if anything were ever to happen to Russell Wilson, that maybe — just maybe — the Seahawks won’t be completely lost.
“My job is to go out and show people that I can be a starter in this league,” said Smith, who completed 4 of 7 passes, racked up 107 yards and posted a passer rating of 141.4 in the Seahawks’ 17-15 win. “Obviously I have to assume my role here, but my job is to continue to show people who I am as a player. I was drafted in this league for a reason. I still have that same skill set.”
Smith, a seven-year veteran, spent his first two seasons as the Jets’ starter before becoming a backup. He was behind Eli Manning in New York in 2017, behind Philip Rivers in L.A. last season, and seems to have cemented his role as Wilson’s backup this year.
Smith did tweak his leg toward the end of the second quarter, but was doing backdrops on the sideline and didn’t seem seriously injured. Carroll didn’t say definitively that Smith was OK, but Smith said he “feels fine.”
Wilson, as you know, has posted a lot of eye-popping numbers over the years. He threw 35 touchdowns and just seven interceptions last year. His career 100.3 passer rating is the second-best in NFL history (Aaron Rodgers). He’s racked up 3,651 rushing yards in seven seasons, gaining 5.7 yards per carry in the process. And he’s won at least 10 games six times.
But the most incredible stats — or at least the most astounding — might be these: 266 & 2.
The 266 refers to the number of sacks Wilson has taken since 2013, which is easily the most in the NFL. Forget the fact that, in the Seahawks’ run-happy offense, he has thrown far fewer attempts than most elite QBs in the league. Mobile as he may be, he still takes a pounding from pass rushers each season.
But that’s where the 2 comes in. Because despite those incessant hits from behind the line of scrimmage, he has missed only two “real” plays in his entire career.
One came against the 49ers in 2016, when he sprained his knee and came out to the sideline to get it wrapped up. The second came against the Cardinals in 2017, when he popped into the medical tent for a millisecond after a taking a shot to the head.
Besides that, though, Wilson has never missed a snap outside of “garbage time,” when the game was essentially over.
So what does this mean?
That the Seahawks have lucked out.
For the past three years, Wilson’s backup has hardly been inspirational. Last year it was Brett Hundley, who had just two years and 15 games of experience before coming to Seattle. The year before it was Austin Davis, the undrafted QB who had appeared in just 13 games before signing with the Seahawks. The year before it was Trevone Boykin, another undrafted signal caller who has never played a meaningful NFL snap.
Carroll constantly tells the press that he’s “fired up,” but given the amount of contact Wilson has endured, Carroll has also been playing with fire.
Perhaps that’s not the case anymore. Given Smith’s experience and performance Thursday, it’s OK to think the Seahawks have some insurance.
To this point, Wilson has been invincible. But it’s always nice to have a backup plan.
After his first touchdown pass, Smith could be seen doing an “army roll” on the field. That wasn’t part of the plan. A second earlier, he tried to jump into the arms of an offensive lineman, but was dropped. So Smith improvised his celebration and just started rolling.
“It was spur of the moment,” Smith said.
Hey, that’s his job now if he gets subbed in. No matter how uncomfortable the moment may be, Smith has to be ready to roll.